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Surface Heat

Such a hot summer Got us all talking about heat. When it comes to stone, tile and flooring, what’s “hot” continues to evolve. This season, we’re looking at the surfaces of the home and checking with local experts what’s trending and what’s slated for more sizzle. If you’re building a new home or thinking about a kitchen or bathroom renovation, here’s what to know.

In the world of stone slabs, man-made quartz still reigns, but other stones are beginning to test its sovereignty. Often readily available, quartz offers consistent colors and patterns with significant durability. According to Legend Interiors Kitchen and Bath Designer Nicole Ruppel Jones, quartz has come a long way since its traditional polished application, and adding texture and feel changes the dynamic of a room. Nicole Ruppel Jones recommends a honed finish for a matted suede look, while a leathered finish provides organic appeal.

“They all lend different looks yet keep the same functions and durability,” she says. “That’s the great thing about quartz. You are never locked in and working around one thing.”

While quartz still has its place atop the market, Triton Stone co-founder Rachel Jones says the natural stone pendulum is swinging back with full force. Jones sees a shift away from whites and toward the warmth of stones like quartzite and marble that feature more browns, golds, greens and creams. A lot of customers are choosing to make a statement in the kitchen or bathrooms with intricate installations on kitchen islands and “wow factor” backsplashes in bold patterns and deep colors.

Looking ahead at developments on an industry level, Rachel Jones notes new finishes and three-dimensional applications on the rise, including scored surfaces and fluted tile, which speak to texture and depth being the way of the future. Meanwhile, some great news for end consumers worried about stone protection — according to Rachel Jones, the quarries are continuing to develop higher quality resins and sealers for protection and strengthening.

With regard to tile, experts say large format tile is everywhere — literally.

“Not only is it a flooring favorite, it’s making its mark on backsplashes and shower walls for a seamless look,” says Ashley Biscan, senior editorial manager at Floor & Decor. “It’s ideal for spaces with a large footprint and open concepts because you cover a lot of ground with impactful stone and stone-look detail. Of course neutrals are a mainstay, but metallic accents and some bolder earthy hues are making waves.”

While tile flooring continues to grow in size, Biscan expects design interest to eventually cycle back to include more small-scale looks. She anticipates homeowners and designers will lean into mosaics and petite tiles that embrace hearty grout lines and artisanal style.

“The look creates character and texture that pushes the envelope,” she says.

Stone-look tile continues to do well, offering homeowners the durability of porcelain while fooling the eye with its naturalness. Collections offer various sizes within the same style, allowing for versatility in creating a cohesive space. At Adda Carpets and Flooring, owner Chris Judge sees a growing number of porcelain tile manufacturers offering large-format “bookmatched” tiles that can enhance the boldness of their application and open the door wide for patterned surfaces.

Beyond tile, our experts acknowledge the popularity of vinyl and laminate flooring in certain applications with LVP (luxury vinyl plank) seeing some use in wet areas or laundry rooms.

That said, tile, natural stone and wood continue to win out. Judge continually sees clients turn to beautiful engineered hardwoods and large-format stone or porcelain. His current favorite item is a French oak engineered hardwood with sizable planks measuring 9 inches by 86 inches. It comes with a 50-year residential warranty.

Carpet doesn’t get a lot of attention these days, but we asked Judge if there’s anything new to know.

He notes a move toward natural fibers and polysilks. Polysilks resemble natural fibers but provide added resistance to stains. He also recommends Tencel fiber, which is derived from eucalyptus and has the sheen of silk.

It’s amazing what the surfaces of the home can do — whether grounding you with their feel underfoot or inspiring you with bold movement along the wall or countertop, these meaningful textures are often the pieces you build around.

As they evolve, so will our homes, and now lets hope for cooler temps to enjoy them in.


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